Lessons We Learn…. About Setting an Example

If you are the oldest of several siblings you were probably told more than once to ‘set a good example’ for your brothers and sisters.  And we all know, from experiences in our own lives, that actions speak louder than words.  We’ve heard that you can’t just talk the talk; you also have to be willing to walk the walk.

And we are very quick to rush to some judgment about anyone whose words don’t match up with their actions (at least in our opinions).

People that set good examples for us in life are people who we can look up to and respect.  They may be somebody that we seek to be more like in our own lives; role models that we can learn from and grow.  They are people who earn our commitment to their cause.

I think of two areas in life where setting the example can be especially important.

Parenting.  “I’ve learned that you can’t expect your children to listen to your advice and ignore your example.”  This is one job in life where you can be sure that if your words and actions do not align, your actions will speak louder!

Even in simple things like teaching our children about BAD words.  How many parents have heard their young child throw out a zinger while looking at them with big, innocent eyes?  And when you stop to ask yourself where they could have possibly heard that word, you have to face the fact that it may have been you!  And no matter how many times you correct your child and tell them that ‘#&*@’ is a word we don’t use, if you are using it, they will too.  I’ve know many  parents who became more careful of their own language when they had young children (and I include myself in that group).

And how do you caution your children about the bad habits of smoking if you are a smoker?  Or, if you tell your teens not to drink and drive but then they see you get in the car and drive home after greatly enjoying the open bar at a wedding reception, your message vanishes in the load blast of your actions.  I’m just saying….

Ralph Waldo Emerson puts it this way:  What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.

Bosses and Managers.  “I’ve learned that if you’re the boss and you stop rowing, you shouldn’t be surprised if everyone else rests too.” 

I was previously in a work situation that was very de-motivating for me and my co-managers.  We had a boss that took no interest in working with us to create a great work environment.  We saw the boss come in later than everyone else, take days off that seemed excessive, leave earlier than many of us most days, and head home for the day when things were chaotic and our employees needed our help and support.   This did not rally the troops.  The boss’s actions spoke so loudly that there was no chance that we would hear anything she had to say!

Employees like to work for somebody that leads by example; someone who will get down in the trenches with them on occasion and help them to get the work done.  Just seeing that your boss goes above and beyond can inspire you to do the same.  If the boss has shared her vision with you and is visibly working hard to achieve it, it’s more likely that you will work to help achieve that vision as well.

Being a good example to others speaks to your character.  Emerson had this to say about character:  If you would lift me up you must be on higher ground.

If you would be a good example/boss/parent, your actions must align with your words.

On the journey with you…….Kathy

(Quote:  Age 51 & 59- The Complete Live and Learn and Pass It On, by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.)

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2 responses to “Lessons We Learn…. About Setting an Example

  1. Always something here to inspire. Thanks.

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